SPOILER ALERT! [There Be Spoilers All Over This Article!]
It's happened to the best of us. We sit down in front of our television, and hand over the contract to our soul to a certain program. And as if devoting our life to this television show every single week for who knows how long wasn't enough, the program has the gall to get us emotionally invested in one (or more) of its characters!
But that's not too bad. After all, an enticing and easily lovable character is the sign of a really good show. It's those types of characters that make us want to tune in at a specific time every week.
But when the character is a certified dirtbag, you start to ask the question of whether or not you should be loving them, or why it's even a question at all. Sure for ratings reasons, they're gold. Nothing draws in viewers like a character that can be classified as both morally right and wrong.
But mentally? Us viewers are practically pulling our hair out by the clumps trying to figure out whether or not we should love or hate this character, and what our opinions on that certain character says about us—as a person. Then you start to wonder if the character is really even a bad person, or if it's just you and your biased and unacceptable views on life.
These characters put us through this phase almost every single episode, and yet we still tune in next week for more!
The Critics' Choice Television Awards is coming up, and with it, some pretty cool awards categories. But one category it is sorely missing, is a category for these thought provoking and morality punching characters.
So, I've come up with my own: 'Best Morally Neutral TV Character'. So here are my 7 picks for the characters I think are on the fence when it comes to right and wrong.
The Nominees For Best Morally Neutral TV Character
Yep, I've decided to start this article off with a shocker—the inclusion of everyone's favorite super sleuth. True, Sherlock may seem like the greatest and most lovable character in the TV universe, what with his charm and 'Cumberbatch-ness'. But look past those wonderfully arresting eyes of his, and you'll find that Sherlock is kind of a jerk sometimes.
Just look at the way he treats people. Yes he's very anti-social and distant, but that doesn't excuse how rude he is to folks. Whether it's insulting the girl who's in love with him, or discounting and discrediting the opinions of his best friend and the local police force; Sherlock is not very nice.
And what's worse is that he knows he's doing it! Sure you could argue that he doesn't know much about human emotions, but that's not entirely true when you think about it. Sherlock is the smartest man in the world, he knows everything from Geology to Astronomy. Somewhere along his academic journey, he's certainly come across knowledge on human emotion and Psychology. He's shown in the series that he's somewhat aware of Molly's (the girl who loves him) feelings towards him.
And he's shown that he knows how us "regular humans" think and act before, like the time he pretended to be a goofy neighbor that had forgotten his keys to get into an apartment complex.
Sherlock's behavior towards his human man, like showing hardly any consideration for the family members of a murder victim make him a pretty terrible guy.
But then again...
Sherlock is a pretty puzzling guy. He can tell just by looking at someone whether they smoke, what their shoe size is, and what they had for breakfast three days earlier at which bakery in France! But while he's incredibly intelligent, he doesn't have a clue about things like love and friendship. Despite this, he tries very hard to learn. Like he said to John Watson: "I don't have friends; I've just got one."
He'll do anything for his comrades, including faking his own death in order to save them from harm.
So yeah, he's very cold and distant from people, but to be friends with Sherlock is to be on the good side of a man who'll always do everything in his intelligent power to keep you of out of harms way. And that's something to be appreciated.
Jaime Lannister—Game of Thrones
That quote has never been more true. There is no one in the Game of Thrones world as morally ambiguous as Jaime Lannister, The Kingslayer! When we're first introduced to this character, we're pretty certain how we feel about him.
He's got a rather gross and intimate relationship with his twin sister, and he loves to push little boys off of towers without a second thought. Also, he betrayed and killed his king, something his job requires him to do the exact opposite of. I'm pretty sure in the Kingsguard manual, it specifically states 'Do not murder your King. And don't do drugs! But that first thing overall.' But who even reads manuals nowadays?
All of these facts, plus his 'Prince Charming from Shrek' attitude (minus the yelling for mommy) made Jaime an instant villain in every Throners eyes.
But then again...
Jaime only killed his king because he was quite literally a 'Mad King'! King Aerys Targaryen was planning to burn the entire city of King's Landing with wildfire, believing that the huge inferno would transform into a dragon with the capability of decimating his foes!
We'll never know if that was possible however, as the fearless Ser Jaime stabbed him in the back and ended his tyranny. So in a way, he was kind of the hero of that story.
He also saved Brienne of Tarth from a large bear, with only one hand!
He had no ulterior motives, he simply respected and cared for her. And then there's his love for his younger brother Tyrion, a dwarf whom everyone else despises.
He cares for his brother, enough to set him free from his unfair imprisonment, against his sister and father's wishes.
And finally, let's talk about his absolute devotion to his sister. Say what you will about their relationship (and you can say a whole lot), Jaime's admittedly immoral love for Cersei is one of the very few genuine love stories that Game of Thrones has (still a better love story then Twilight...and Joffrey/Sansa).
Jesse Pinkman—Breaking Bad
All of the 'love/hate' attention is usually given to Walter White, Jesse's boss and the sick mastermind behind most of the events that occur in Breaking Bad.
And while it is true that of the two, Jesse is the one with a brighter soul, he's still got one thing about him that makes him (at least to me) a but unlikable; he still hangs around the wrong crowd.
Jesse is a smart kid. So why is he still partners with someone as cold as Walter White? It's something that has always irked me about him. You don't know how many times I've yelled at the screen, saying "Will you please just distance yourself from him, before you die?!" But he wasn't having it.
It wasn't until later in the series that Jesse finally quit the business and abandoned Mr. White. But then, almost immediately after, he starts working with the DEA and Walt's brother-in-law Hank, to try and catch Walt red-handed. Now, Walt would fit perfectly in this list, as even though he's a terrible guy, you still can't decide how you really feel about him. So of course I didn't want him arrested and put on trial, I knew he'd get nothing short of life for every thing he's done. So seeing his former best friend/ business partner trying to put him behind bars kind of sucked.
"I wanted him free of Walt," I'd say. "But I didn't want him trying to arrest Walt!" Basically, I wasn't sure how to feel about Jesse at all at that moment. He was doing the right thing, but in this show, that's a pretty messed up thing to do!
But then again...
Jesse has a heart, at least one larger than his drug dealing mentor. He genuinely cares for people. He's shown to be good with kids and quite a hit with the ladies.
He also cares a lot about Mr. White. In fact, if it wasn't for Jesse, Walt would have gone completely over the edge a long time ago! Jesse is like his anchor, he keeps him grounded and stable; as much as he can.
And Jesse only went to the cops because Walt poisoned a kid! The son of Jesse's girlfriend to be exact. If I found out that someone had poisoned the son of my girlfriend, I would have gone to the police on that dirtbag too! Luckily, my girlfriend doesn't have a kid. And I don't have a girlfriend...
And yet still, Jesse sees Walt as like a father to him. That amount of respect is commendable, and it's why I can't decide whether or not Jesse Pinkman, the young drug dealer with a heart of gold, is a good guy or a bad guy.
Sasuke Uchiha—Naruto/Naruto Shippuden
Before you even say anything; yes, an anime does count as a television series! Though US and European viewers usually stream episodes online, anime is very prominent on television in Japan, with Naruto and its Shippuden sequel being two of the most watched television programs in 'The Land of the Rising Sun'!
So now that that's out of the way, let's talk about Sasuke.
For the majority of Naruto, Sasuke is just the jerkish teammate of the series protagonist, and a very unlikely friend. His jerkish attitude towards his friends already made him pretty unlikable, but then he had to go and up his dislike levels by becoming a traitorous scumbag in Shippuden!
He abandoned his home, his friends and his teachers, all for the selfish desire to take revenge on his older brother. He denounced his life as a Leaf Villager, and replaced with a life as a cold and distant villain, showing no regard for his former friends, and even trying to kill them several times!
And then once he discovers the true history of the village he once called home, and his family ties, he decides to try and destroy the entire town! And yet Naruto, his former best friend, still stands up for him! If you've stuck with the story of Naruto since the beginning, you've probably found yourself wondering why anyone could ever defend a certified jacka$$ like that.
But then again...
You have to remember that Sasuke has had a pretty rough life. His older brother kills his entire clan, leaving him the only survivor, orphaned at a very young age. He decides to plan his revenge on his evil brother, spending years trying to get powerful enough to take him on.
Then, he leaves the village after realizing that the power he's looking for can't be found there. And it's not like he made that decision quickly, he did think about it; and even though he chose poorly, you can't blame him, given the only family member he has left also abandoned his home and joined the dark side. Like brother like...brother and all that.
To make matter worse, he finally gets his revenge, only to find out that his brother was a good guy all along, and the Leaf Village was inadvertently responsible for the death of his family. I'd be pretty mad too! Mad enough to plot the deaths of every single innocent man, woman and child in the village? I don't know about that.
It's true that Sasuke becomes an evil jerk, but it's not like this is just out of the blue. He's got some pretty good reasons for his actions, doesn't justify them, but at least he's not evil for the sake of being evil (*cough* Joffrey *cough*).
Larry Bloom—Orange is the New Black
In a show where the main character is in jail, how is this upstanding citizen the bad guy? Well for one thing, he was pretty much unfairly destined to be the bad guy when Piper's former love interest Alex came back into her life, and the internet exploded with ship names like Palex and...Aiper? Anyway, everybody who watches Orange is the New Black wants Piper and Alex to rekindle their old love, so Piper's fiance Larry quickly became a dislike amongst fans.
But it's not that we hate him solely because he was the only thing blocking the true love of two criminals in the same jail for the same reason (it's fate!), he also became a bit of a jerk.
First, he decides to write an article about Piper's time in the prison, which gets published in the local newspaper. I know it isn't written down anywhere, but it's probably common knowledge that you shouldn't write about the things your fiance tells you in your 'one call a day' sessions over the prison phone. Pretty sure she wanted those secrets to remain secrets.
But nope, Larry just had to publish a whole story on them. Not only that, but he also goes on a radio show and tells the world what Piper really thinks about her fellow inmates. The problem with that? Prisons have radios! So thanks to her fiance, Piper had made a whole lot of enemies in a place she couldn't escape from.
And then he decides to put the icing on the cake, and tell Piper that Alex is the reason she's in jail, effectively putting a nail in Piper/Alex! Larry made the entirety of Tumblr angry that day. Oh but I bet you thought that was all didn't you? NOPE! Larry has an affair with his best friends wife, after they just had a baby! Luckily, his friend sat down with him and told him how he felt about that.
All of these facts make it hard to even stand Larry a tiny bit. I mean there is absolutely no way you could love him. No way at—
But then again...
There is absolutely no way to excuse his affair with his best friend's wife. But that whole thing with Piper? You have to remember, these two were set to be engaged. They had a life, he fell in love with Piper and he thought she felt the same way. I mean, she had to have felt something right? After all she did say yes to his proposal.
These two were a lovely couple; holding hands, attending parties, binging shows. But then Piper goes to jail. And though he's a little uneasy about the situation, he still loves her and supports her, promising to wait for her, so they can get married when she gets out.
For awhile, he keeps this promise (until the aforementioned love affair of course). But then he learns that Piper and Alex are still in love and in the same prison. Piper did cheat on Larry a little in jail with Alex, and though we are all Team Alex, we have to remember that.
Sure, him going on a radio show is probably the biggest (Nightwing's first name) move you can think of, but you have to put into account that this guy just had his whole life flipped upside down. His wife is in jail, in love with someone else, and quite possibly becoming just as bad as the rest of the criminals she bunks with.
Remember that, and you start to gain a little bit of respect for the guy. But then you remember his biggest offense..
And then it all comes full circle, and you once again find yourself asking whether or not you should hate/love this jerk/poor guy.
Well, those are the nominees for 'Best Morally Neutral TV Character'! Now it's time to announce the winner! Drum roll please!
And the winner is...
For his amazing display of both jerktitude and heroism, sometimes in the same season, Ser Jaime wins this award!
Game of Thrones seasons can be categorized in many different ways. There's the 'Stark count measure' (S1: Lotta Starks, S2: Little Starks, S3: Barely Any Starks etc.), the 'death count' (S1: Oh man, S2: Oh jeez, S3: OH MY LORD etc.), but no such categorization is as popular as the Jaime's morality measure (S1: What a D-bag, S2: Still a jerk, S3: I guess he's alright, S4 Part 1: Oh he's an a$$, S4 Part 2: He's not so bad etc.).
Jaime is always going to be that character we cant' decide on. Sure he has his heart set on his twin (just realized that he's practically in love with himself, haha, egos), and he's horrible to children, but he's got a heart of gold and will do anything for those close to him. Currently, season 5 sees Jaime going to rescue his daughter from a group of assassins, a commendable act. But the season is still new, so there's still a chance for him to step on our hearts again.
We'll likely be seeing Jaime in a different light sometime soon, whether or not that's the light he finally sticks with, who knows really?
You were close Sasuke, but the fine line between love/hate is a bit thicker for you than it is for the Lannister golden child.
I hope you enjoyed this article and this mini-awards show I've made up for you! What do you think of the nominees?
Who do you think should have won? Go ahead and tell me and the world in the comments who your favorite morally neutral character is, it doesn't have to be anyone in this article, I'm positive there are loads of them out there that I didn't include (*cough* Pete Campbell *cough*).
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